Friday, August 17, 2012

Seared Sea Scallops with Prosecco Risotto

I've mentioned before, I love cooking for my future husband. Impressing him with my feats in the kitchen and his reactions makes it so worthwhile. I think he is pleasantly surprised with how my cooking stress level has lessened and my skill level has evolved. I used to freak out a little (ok a lot..) when trying to cook for Luke and got really stressed whenever he would try and help. I am now pretty carefree when it comes to experimenting in the kitchen and even let him help!

Another thing that has been evolving in our kitchen is Luke's eating habbits! He used to hate seafood, but litle by little has begun enjoying it more. He loves scallops, so I was not surprised when he requested scallops for dinner on what we now call Seafood Sunday.

I even felt ambitious enough to whip up a prosecco risotto to serve along with the scallops.
I found this recipe but ommitted the prosciutto garnish. The lemon zest on top was delicious and like the author of the blog, am in the prosecco-league so used that instead of champagne.

I was a little nervous to cook scallops, as I've hear searing them perfectly was a bit of a challenge. Several google searches later, I felt I had the technique down - (make sure they are completely dried and the pan is screaming hot!)

{Of course right as my scallops were perfectly prepped and my pan perfectly hot and was about to drop in the first scallop (in clock-wise order, to be able to perfectly flip them), our neighbor knocked on our door. I freaked out a little inside, then realized I was insane and took a quick break}

The meal came out so well and was even more enjoyable eaten outside with the leftover prosecco  - Luke even said it would cost $22 at a restaurant!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

S'mores Pie

I have an insane obsession with all-things s'mores. I was even proposed to via a s'more. My beautiful ring was carefully hidden in a s'more when Luke proposed, and I still wanted to eat it, in spite of its shellac. My next door neighbors always, always have a box of good old s'mores poptarts in the cabinet, that I without fail eat a sleeve every time I'm over there (they even got me a box as part of a housewarming gift!) And of course, I love a s'more carefully crafted alongside the firepit of our house.

The obsession evolves with this pie.

The recipe comes from one of my favorite blogs - How Sweet It Is. Her recipes are so outrageously delicious and creative (BBQ Spiced Salmon with Pineapple Jalapeño Salsa and Roasted Strawberry, Brie + Chocolate Grilled Cheeeeeeeese oh my word), and this one was no exception.


It is so good and I have made it 3 times this summer, and have passed along the recipe to many of my friends and family.

The s'mores pie is so easy to make and is the perfect summer BBQ treat.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chai Peach Oatmeal

Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day. I love intermixing both sweet and savory breakfasts into my daily breakfasts.  My weekly breakfasts must be healthy, easily thrown together, and keep me full until lunchtime. I love constantly changing out my breakfasts, to keep things from getting too dull, but I've been eating this particular breakfast for almost 2 weeks straight-- it's that good.

Chai Peach Oatmeal. It's absolutely delicious. Made with steel cut oats, and cooked with equal parts chai tea and milk, topped with frozen peaches and a drizzle of maple syrup. It's absolutely phenomenal and a huge portion of food and still low calorie (which I LOVE). 

Chai Peach Oatmeal

(recipe adapted slightly from Fitness Magazine)

Steep 1 chai tea bag in 1/2 cup of boiling water for 3 minutes. Combine the tea with 1/2 cup low-fat milk and 1/2 cup quick-cooking steel cut oats in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes (Keep checking on it, I've caused quite the mess by letting it boil over and explode out of the bowl). Stir, top with a few shakes of cinnamon, thawed peaches and a drizzle of 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup.

*Total breakfast is about 280 calories

Tomorrow I'll share with you my alternatively savory breakfast- which has been on constant rotation with this one and equally as habit-forming.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Frozen Yogurt Sundaes, On a Tuesday

Get together with your friends on a Tuesday. There's no need to wait until the weekend. Have a glass or two of wine and get off the stupid diet for a minute. Trust me on this one,  you need it! The work week can be looong. Stop working for the weekend. Have some fun on a Tuesday night. You’ve earned it. It will make your week more fun and the weekend not seem so far away. And have yourself an ice cream sundae that you can feel good about.

This dessert will totally make you feel good about yourself. It would tell you things like you look nice today and not tell you that you look tired (which we all know is code for you look like crap!)  No way. This dessert is simple and lovely and perfect to round out a night of decadence.

It includes low-fat frozen yogurt (healthy!), bananas (healthy!), homemade 2 ingredient hot fudge (totally healthy!), and toasted almonds (yup healthy! See?!)

My friends came over on a random Tuesday for wine and appetizers and of course we had the usual staples: wine, cheese and crackers, ridiculous girl talk, and an obscene amount of goat cheese and red pepper jelly (one of our faves. that and spinach & artichoke dip. All I’m saying is, it’s not a pretty sight watching us consume either of these)

I wanted to make a simple treat for these lady friends of mine, and I remembered this recipe I’d seen in Real Simple magazine. Enjoy. I did. And then for about 4 consecutive nights in a row….

Frozen Yogurt Sundaes

Recipe from -  4 servings

¼ cup granulated sugar

3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 pint low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt (I like Hood)

2 bananas, sliced

¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted

In a small saucepan combine the sugar and cocoa powder, whisk in ¼ cup of water. Turn on heat and bring to a boil. Once it begins to boil, reduce heat and simmer, whisking until slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes.  Let cool a little, it will thicken even more. Scoop out the frozen yogurt into dishes and top with sliced bananas, hot fudge and almonds.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cooking Lessons in Life & Twice Baked Potatoes

A funny thing happens when you move out into your own house with your fiancé. You have to learn how to cook. I sometimes say to Luke that this is not the 1950s and I’m not required to cook for him every night.

But truthfully, it’s a nice thing to cook for your significant other. It makes me feel good when I can feed him a good meal and impress him. So  I’m learning. Albeit very slowly.

Growing up with a father who is an amazing Italian cook, my cooking experience never truly developed. Now that Luke and I are living together, I always want to prepare great dinners for us and am just learning the true lesson in being a great cook.

To just have fun with it!

I love baking, because of how scientific and exact it is. Baking is all about measurements and following the recipe exactly. Cooking- truly good cooking- comes from guessing and experimenting and winging it.

Ron, my father, has mastered this art. He'll watch 2 minutes of cooking show and produce the most amazing stuffed quahogs you'll ever taste. His sauce recipe is perfection after years of making it- from his army days (which is why he always makes a ton of it, or anything for that matter) to cooking every night for my mom, sister and I.

To Ron, cooking is carefree and something he has an innate ability for. He loves cooking huuuuuuge batches of food, and loading up our plates against our (unconvincing) pleas that that’s enough!!!! (somehow we always manage to clean our plates). He makes these big batches of meatballs, sauce, eggplant parmesan, chicken cacciatore and corn chowder and feeds everyone he knows—the golf pro at his country club, my mom’s co-worker-- you name it. He loves people to enjoy his food and even since I’ve moved out, I’m still fed quite well by Ron--  Tupperwares of sauce and freshly gathered clams from Duxbury Bay. It’s the truest form of comfort food to me.

In my ongoing pursuit of becoming a more carefree cook, I have been trying more to just glance at a recipe for ideas and wing the rest. Sure there's the risk that it could come out awfuuuuul. But I think this lesson applies to a lot in life. To not think too much (*something I definitely am guilty of) and just go with your gut.

Luke loves twice baked potatoes, even choosing them as a side at our wedding. His mom has always made them and in an effort to keep him from getting too homesick for his mom’s cooking, I decided to make them for him. My experience with twice baked potatoes is limited to the frozen ones (how good are those though?!)

I found a few recipes online and whipped these up. I didn’t follow a recipe exactly, or  measure anything for that matter so here are the ingredients. And go ahead, throw caution to the wind and just wing it too, you daredevil!

Twice Baked Broccoli Potatoes

2 Russet Potatoes, scrubbed clean

Shredded Cheese (I used Stop & Shop Mac and Cheese Blend)

Frozen Broccoli, defrosted and chopped up

Low Fat Milk

Butter (I used margarine, as it’s all my poorly stocked kitchen had)

Garlic Powder

Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Poke the potatoes with a fork a couple of times around and microwave until softened, turning a few times throughout. (I used my microwaves potato setting) Slice the potatoes in half and carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving a very thin part of the potato attached to the skin. (Don’t worry if they begin to fall apart. I freaked for a minute, but then it was ok. phew) Combine the scooped out potatoes, a splash of milk (add a little now and more as you stir them), a handful of cheese (as much as you like), a couple pads of butter, the chopped up broccoli, a few shakes of garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Mash it all up and add more milk until you get the right consistency of mashed potatoes. Scoop it all into the potato skins, press down, and top with more cheese and baked for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden. Serve with a steak.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cody Carrot Cake Porter

While at work the other day, I came across this Carrot Cake Porter from Cody Brewing Company in the system. I freaked- it was all over - I needed to try this beer. My love of carrot cake and porters took over and I was completely intrigued. After harassing asking a few people at work about how to get a bottle to try, my nice co-worker emailed a rep from the brewery who agreed to bring down a bottle for me. See?? Harassing just nicely asking always pays off!

Only 50 cases were released statewide, so I was happy to get my hands on one. I sampled the beer with Luke and my fellow adventurous-beer loving friend, Jamie. We all thought it was great! A dark color, we all noticed hints of cinnamon and chocolate. We all agreed it was reminiscent of a pumpkin ale, with notes carrot (of course) and spices. I also found out 60 pounds of carrots were used in each barrel!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Crispy Sweet Potato Fries

When your morning starts by dropping your English muffin face down (always. why?! there must be some scientific explanation here) on the kitchen floor at work. The good news is: your day can only get better!

And indeed it did. Largely in part by these sweet potato fries. Sweet potato fries are my life. I could eat these all day. And the good news is, they're healthy. (Compared to your standard french fries, which of course there is no comparison, but these are a close substitute!) Luke was playing hockey so I had the kitchen to myself, leisurely cooking while sipping sauvignon blanc.

One of the shortcomings to every other batch of sweet potato fries I've made is the lack of crispiness. I did some online research and came across for crispier fries and found  this recipe, where I learned the trick of tossing the fries in cornstarch before baking. They still weren't as crispy as I would have liked, but I did skimp on soaking the fries in water before baking (in that I didn't - I was hungry!)

I added garlic powder, rosemary, cinnamon, salt and pepper to the cornstarch before tossing them in a seal Tupperware container in small batches, adding more cornstarch and spices as needed. Be sure not to coat them too much, as it won't all cook off when baking.  They were delicious but my quest for the perfect sweet potato fries isn't over.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Honey Garlic Balsamic Chicken

I find myself thinking about food allllllllll theeeeeeee timeeeeeee. Especially at the gym. I often day dream while running on the treadmill about what I'm going to consume when I get home. I often browse through magazines and snap pictures of recipes with my iPhone while on the treadmill too. People must think I'm nuts!

After the gym, I didn't feel like stopping for anything on the way home so I thought about what we had in our fridge and dreamed up pan seared chicken with a lemony honey garlic sauce. Luke was playing hockey so I wanted to make something that would be good to heat up when he got home as well. (who's a better fiance than me?)

I googled my food dream and found this perfect, easy recipe from Baked Bree - Honey Garlic Balsamic Chicken. It was divine (and I don't throw around the word divine too often). While patting the chicken dry, my father called up and said he had picked Chinese food for dinner (my family lives about a mile and a half down the street). I almost aborted this chicken, but I'm so glad I didn't!

Please note the following substitutions I made due to not having them.
  • water for the chicken stock
  • lemon juice from a bottle over fresh
  • garlic from a jar instead of fresh garlic
& it was still fantastic! I ate the chicken with sweet potato fries in front of the TV with a glass of wine. Colonel Clink - that was nice! (I heard Phil Dunphey say that on Modern Family...)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bridesmaid Proposal

We got engaged this last September, and we just booked our wedding for June 2013 so now that the wedding was booked, it was time to pop the question to my gals! You would think I was making an actual proposal! For some reason, I was so nervous to ask my best friends to be bridesmaids and I knew I wanted to do something extra special rather than simply calling them up.  I decided on a bridesmaid brunch where I would ask the girls on top of a donut.

 I wanted to surprise them with the bridesmaid proposal, so I invited all the girls to my house for a casual Sunday brunch. On the menu was baked french toast, Strawberry Buttermilk donuts, fruit salad, vegan pineapple muffins, asparagus quiche, raspberry tea cake, and my favorite- a mimosa bar.

I always get flustered when planning anything, as I always want it to be totally perfect. I need to work on relaxing more. I think I could learn a lot from my idol, Ina Garten. She makes entertaining look so relaxed and breezy. I always remember her advice in not trying to make everything from scratch.

ohhhh Ina. let me live with you in the Hamptons. please?

I made these donuts with my new donut pan from Crate & Barrel. {I was so excited when I first got it,  I whipped these donuts up at 1 in the morning the night I got the donut pan. That was a particularly craaaazy Friday night, let me tell you!}

I baked up the strawberry donuts the night before the brunch and made toppers to stick in them, asking my sister to be my maid of honor, and 6 friends to be bridesmaids. One lives out in San Diego, so with the help of her sweet boyfriend, I was able to Face Time with her and ask her along with the other girls. I also invited my mom and my fiance's mom.

It was actually super awkard when I asked the girls. I had hoped to do it right away, but I got nervous (whyyy?) and waited until after we ate. I came out with the big tray and just put it on the table and started crying (whyyyy?)  and couldn't even ask them. I had no idea it would be that emotional. But they all said yes nd it was cute. I'm glad I asked them in a fun way and made a party of it. It was a lovely day filled with my favorite meal (brunch food is the best) and mimosas, of course. Everyone had fun, except for Dexter who I think was a little sad he wasn't asked to be a bridesmaid.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bananas Foster Upside Down Cake & Pale Ale

My first beer and dessert pairing was Bananas Foster Cake and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.What a combination this was. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is an obvious first choice for my first beer tasting. It's an American Pale Ale and is a great "gateway" beer into the wide world of craft beers. Easy to drink and very enjoyable, it paired wonderfully with the bananas foster cake.


A light, buttery cake baked on top of bananas, toasted pecans and a hit of rum. I used this recipe, and it turned out better than I thought I was capable of.


thoroughly impressing myself.

I served this cake when my fiance's family came over for dinner. They all loved it, and it even tasted great a few days later, warmed up with some vanilla ice cream.

i couldn't help myself

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cambridge Brewing Company

A few weeks ago, my work hosted a Grand Tasting at the Pinehills Country Club in Plymouth. There were so many great beers there, but unfortunately I only got to try a few as I was manning the raffle tickets at the door. I did get to try a brand new beer from The House of Shandy called Curious Traveler Shandy, that just tasted like Summer. I could definitely see myself getting into a few these on the beach this summer. So refreshing and delicious.

Shock Top just introduced a shandy as well, which is also really good!


Another few beers I got to try were from Cambridge Brewing Company. It was so cool --  I got to meet the brewmaster, Will Meyers, and hear his notes and pairing thoughts about the beers. Cambridge Brewing Company is the oldest brewery-restaurant in the Boston area and of the first in the US. Will explained to me how exquisitely their beers pair with food, which I definitely could tell when trying them.

The first beer I tried on recommendation of a coworker was the Weekapaug Gruit, which isn't even available yet. Will explained it was about a week shy of full fermentation (I hope I'm remembering his actual terms...) but he wanted to be able to share it at the tasting so he bottled some of it early in a growler. It was so good and as Will pointed out (which I totally noticed), a caramel flavor and then a sort of herbal tea flavor at the end, which I loved. It's out this month, so hopefully I'll be able to pick up more of it!

The second I tried was their Sgt. Pepper. I loved the name of it, first off, and upon trying it, was taken aback by how interesting it was. The notes of pepper were unexpected yet awesome, and my first thought of how wonderful it would pair with a lemony chicken.  Will said it's a great beer to pair with foods like goat cheese, poultry and game meat. He said the chef paired it with a rabbit stew and he said it was the best food and beer pairing he's ever had.  Their website describes the beer as:

Four fab peppercorns harmonize with spicy hops while rye malt and our Belgian yeast hold down the backbeat. This groovy farmhouse ale is a limited release, far out with food and guaranteed to raise a smile! 6.0% ALC/VOL.

Totally agreed! Hopefully I can get to the Cambridge Brewing Co. soon!


Friday, April 6, 2012

The Art of Beer Whispering

image from Society 6

There's a ton of literature out there explaining the proper tasting techniques when tasting beer. Anyone familiar with tasting wine, knows that you have to get all of your senses involved to appreciate the entire experience. In actually tasting a beer, as opposed to the ever tasteful art of shotgunning of a beer {I mean, I wouldn't know but I can guess)}, one can really discover the true depth of a beer, with all of its flavors and character. 

I also think it's important to keep in mind there are no wrong answers, or I'll just simply keep telling myself that. But seriously, I've always thought that everyone tastes differently - a beer too bitter for one person, might be sweet for another. And let's get real: it's beer. It's supposed to be fun. Here's a standard method of tasting beer as outlined on
  • Appearance
    • Color - one of the methods brewers use to describe a beer's color is the Standard Reference Method (or SRM). This method involves the use of spectrophotometry to assign a number of degrees SRM to light intensity.  hmm.. read this article to get down to the science of it. In real life, color descriptions will suffice (such as Dark Amber in color). But how smart would you sound describing a beer as 15 SRM?
    • Head- the foam on top of the beer
    • Carbonation Levels
  • Aroma (What does it smell like?)
  • Flavor (What does it taste like?)
  • Mouthfeel (How does the liquid feel on  your tongue?)
  • Overall Impression ( you like it?!)
Another way I found to go about tasting a beer a little less technically is called Beer Whispering, also from It seems like it creates a more memorable and abstract tasting experience, drawing upon more than just the liquid's characteristics. I like how this method really drives home the point, that there are no right or wrong tasting opinions and keeps it a little more open-ended. {Beer geeks, relax please.}
Beer Whispering
Express out loud what the beer has to say. Is it:
  • Happy/Sad?
  • What kind of aroma does it have?
  • Does it taste heavy or light?
  • Does the beverage inspire you?
  • Is it memorable?
  • What food would it best pair with?
I hearby declare this to be the new way I will drink beer from now on, by whether or not a beer inspires me. So profound. I love it.
Just to be clear and to wrap it up (you're welcome) don't ever shy away from stating your opinions about a beer. Your opinion and tasting notes are all that matters,anyways. It's beer - it's supposed to be FUN.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

For the love of beer

Did you know that the Pilgrims stopped at the Plymouth Rock rather than continuing on to Virginia because they ran out of beer?

So many styles.. so little time.

It's so important, an entirely new civilization was created due to a lack of it.

I can totally relate to this sort of love for beer. While I thoroughly enjoy it, and even work at a beer distributor, I’ve always wanted to further explore the different styles and history of beer. I thought starting this blog would be a fun way to try all the different beer styles and expand my beer knowledge (sure to be a grueling task).  Beers, especially the really heavy, dark beers can sometimes be intimidating, especially for the very devote Bud Light drinkers (I’m talking to you, Traci). 

I felt blogging about beer mixed in with my day to day life--whether it's paired with desserts or at a party I'm hosting-- would make it less daunting, while also highlighting the fact that beer is taken to a whooooole new amazing level when really, truly savored. {as all good things in life should be} So read on-- there are sure to be many delicious beers, sweet indulgences, run on sentences, ridiculous ramblings, and absolutely no misuses of there and their and your and you're (serious pet peeve of mine. your welcome.)